Die Geheimnisvolle Insel:


Der Herausgeber Henrik Larsen publiziert im dänisch / englisch sprachigen Fanzine Obskuriøst zu Themen des Abenteuerfilms. Die Ausgabe 11/2002 war Sciencefiction - Filmen gewidmet. Mehrere Artikel befassten sich unter anderem mit dem Film The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo (1974). Dazu habe ich in einem Artikel, den rechts inhaltlich wiedergebe, einiges zur Buchvorlage Jules Vernes und zu meiner Beziehung zum Buch geschrieben.

Picture in text: Book cover of the 1917 edition by Charles Scribner's Sons (USA)

Weiterführende Verbindungen:

Weitere Artikel aus Zeitungen und Zeitschriften zum Thema Jules Verne unter Ergänzende Beiträge.

Wer mehr über den Obskuriøst oder zum Thema Kultfilme erfahren möchte, der folge bitte dem externen LINK CULTMOVIES

This following text was published in the Danish fanzine Obskuriøst, 11/2002. Please follow this external link for further details CULTMOVIES


By Andreas Fehrmann

I grew up with the heroes of my favorite books. In my early childhood with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn by Mark Twain and later with Stevenson's, Gerstaecker's, Poe's, Cooper's characters and all the other numerous “friends” of my adventure books. Until this period, “Robinsonades” or desert-island stories developed continuously to my favorites. The story by Daniel Defoe The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe triggered me to dream about idyllic islands and exotic foreign countries.

I am fascinated by the details of survival, the collecting of the flotsam of the destroyed shipwreck and the search of fire, food and shelter. Additionally these are the same details of dreams of generations of schoolboys with the exploration of undiscovered territory, hunting and fishing.

After I had discovered the books of the famous French novelist Jules Verne. I found a series of Vernian desert-island stories in his cycle of the Extraordinary Journeys (in French: Voyages Extraordinaires, named by Pierre-Jules Hetzel, the publisher of Jules Verne). These series included for example the following Robinsonades: Two Years Vacation, The School for Robinsons, Second Homeland, Uncle Robinson (a novel which was discovered as a draft, first published in 1991 – an early predecessor of The Mysterious Island) and naturally the Mega-Robinsonade: The Mysterious Island.

The Mysterious Island was originally published as L'Ile mystéreuse in parts in France between 1873 and 1875 in a periodical. The official date of the edition was the 10th September of 1874 (published as an in-octavo volume in three parts by the publisher Hetzel). It was the last part of a trilogy. The Mysterious Island made the links between the two novels Captain Grant's Children (1865, also know as In Search to the Castaways) and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1869). This idea had been born even before the start of writing of The Mysterious Island. That was the reason for some little mistakes, particularly by using of the years in the different stories.

But let me talk about the story: During the American Civil War in 1865 five imprisoned Unionists escaped from Richmond (a Confederate military quarter) by hijacking a reconnaissance-balloon. In a terrible hurricane the balloon swept over a distance of 6.500 miles across the American continent to a lonely island in the Pacific. The balloon crashed with our friends: Cyrus Smith, the engineer and Unionist officer, Pencroff the sailor, Harbert the orphaned boy, Spilett the reporter and Nab, the black assistant of Cyrus Smith, after the stormy journey. Under the leadership of Cyrus the castaways organized their difficult life as settlers of a desert island, away from the battles of the Civil War. Our friends called the island Lincoln Island, in memento of the incident of their homeland.

Mysterious IslandPerhaps I give you a few hints to some differences in some English versions of this story. The first English translation was available by Sampson Low in 1875, translated by W.H.G. Kingston. Based on this first English version followed many other variants of translations or abridged versions. Most of them are with a lot of changes to the French original, or with deleted passages. The important unacceptable change was the creation of new names of the central figures of the novel. So Cyrus Smith become Cyrus Harding, Pencroff Pencroft and Harbert Herbert. The free use of the original text started by Kingston in 1875. Until today we can find the non original names in most of English-speaking films and most books in English.

In 2000 this confusion and mutilation of the text was finished. A new unabridged translation into English of this classic Verne novel by Sidney Kravitz was published in the USA (for bookworms: ISBN 0-8195-6559-8). In this book I found an interesting introduction by William Butcher. Foe example, the original name Cyrus Smith is a fusion of the first name of Cyrus Field (the great American who installed the Atlantic cable – Verne knew him from a passage on the Great Eastern across the Atlantic) and the surname Smith refers to a blacksmith. I like this simple explanation very much.

But now back to the story: The life of the colonists (so they named themselves) based on the genius of the omnipotent engineer Smith was gradually optimized. This process was overshadowed by an enigma. A series of incidents made them believe, that they were not alone on their island. The key to the enigma was captain Nemo (the Latin name for: no one), who we know from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas. He lived on his advanced submarine Nautilus, which was covered in a big underwater cave after an earthquake.

Nemo's charisma, his modern submarine and his technological tools is one part of the fascination of the story. One other part is the engineer Cyrus Smith. The results of his scientific and engineering accomplishments were great. This fact is only represented in the books. This mixture in connection with the extraordinary nature of the fictive microcosm of the island (Verne constructed an ideal island with a great variety of animals and plants from all parts of the globe, like a small continent) is an ideal background of great adventures.

One of the mysterious facts was a message in a bottle that floated to the coast of the Lincoln Island. The message informed the colonists about another castaway on the neighboring island of Tabor. For this reason they constructed a small vessel and they started an expedition to the Tabor island. They found the sailor Ayrton in an animal state and rescued him. This is the link to Verne's Captain Grant's Children. After the unsuccessful attempt to hijack Grant's yacht Duncan, Ayrton was abandoned on Tabor Island. In a film version we find this part of the story only in The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo (1973). That's why I prefer this film. Here we find the actor Omar Sharif as Nemo. He is an ideal Nemo, the Indian Prince of Dakkar. The original person Nemo was reworked after an objection of Hetzel, Verne's publisher. In the draft of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas Nemo was originally Polish. Hetzel vetoed a European with a partially negative character. Europe was one of the main markets of Hetzel's books. Good luck for Omar Sharif and us!

But the time on the Lincoln Island was limited. A volcano eruption should destroy the island. As result of the explosion we found the colonists on a small rock in the Pacific. Just in time the Duncan reached the survivors of the disaster. The crew of the Duncan should fetch Ayrton. This was the result of the last action of Captain Nemo: He deposited a message with the coordinates of the Lincoln Island on Tabor Island. A “Happy End” à la Jule Verne.

Could we find the Lincoln or the Tabor Island on our maps? Verne placed the islands with concrete coordinates in the Pacific. I checked these details with the help of the geographer Wolfgang Schippke. These islands exist only in the fantasy of Jules Verne and now in ours.

The Mysterious Island is my favorite book by Jules Verne. For a period of some years I have been reading it over and over again. The thrill has gone, but I visit “good friends”. I always feel with the colonists in their Granite House while rebuilding their own small civilisation. I am sure, generations of coming readers will have the same feeling.

Zurück zu THEMEN (Back To THEMES)

Back to MENUE "The Mysterious Island" Zum Menü: Die geheimnisvolle Insel - The Mysterious Island - L'lle mystérieus

Zur Seitenübersicht (Site - Map)

Copyright © Andreas Fehrmann - 12/02, letzte Aktualisierung 27. Januar 2016